Friday Five: February 1965

5. “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin” by the Righteous Brothers
A classic love song that sat atop the Hot 100 at #1 for two weeks in February, the same month it peaked at #2 on the R&B charts. The contrasting vocal talents of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield are never more beautifully combined. It was their signature tune for decades to come, though not all due to their talents. The brilliant Phil Spector was behind the boards as producer. He and song writing duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil penned the song. It’s a rich example of Spector’s “wall of sound” trademark, but also two brilliant lyricists crafting a song for an amazing vocal duo.

4. “It Ain’t Me Babe” by Johnny Cash
You gotta love a remake of a Bob Dylan song charting in the country charts only a year after the man himself released it. The remake here is by the Man in Black, Mr. Johnny Cash. Sung as a duet with his future wife June Carter Cash, and made into a up-tempo number, the song has a different feel to be sure, but the lyircal power of it still packs a punch. Topped out at #4 in this month.

3. “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” by Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye is one of my favorite artists of all time. Part of that love rests on his evolution over a three decade career. This classic peaked at #3 on the R&B charts (stalled by the success of “My Girl” and the cross-over hit by the Righteous Brothers). Written by Holland, Dozier, and Holland, with music courtesy of the Funk Brothers, it was Gaye’s biggest selling single up to that point.

2. “Shotgun” by Jr. Walker & The All Stars
It hit #2 on the R&B charts in February, on its way to the top spot the next month. It’s one of those songs that uses only one chord throughout, but it has a lot of “accents” from the bass, organ, a touch of guitar flutter, and an amazing sax performance by J.r Walker himself. James Jamerson (bass) and Benny Benjamin (drums) from the illustrious Funk Brothers play on this Berry Gordy produced hit.

1. “My Girl” by the Temptations
Written and produced by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, with music performed by the Funk Brothers, and lead vocals by David Ruffin (his first with the group), this song was the first chart topper for the vocal group who helped define the Motown sound. It’s a simple (and almost sappy) love song but the strength of the instrumentation and the vocals elevate it to a classic. It dominated the R&B charts, holding the #1 position for six weeks (one week in January, one week in March, and all weeks in February), and it later hit the top spot on the Hot 100 for one week.

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